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Belladonna



[A quick note: I read this as part of a buddy read for October but also because it perfectly fit my autumn TBR. This copy came from Fairyloot and it is absolutely stunning. I love it when a bookโ€™s outside matches its inside. Also, this is the first in a series that will undoubtedly be a murder mystery series.]

โ€œ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ž๐ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐›๐ฒ ๐๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ก. ๐ˆ๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž.โ€โ€”Adalyn Grace

This was one of the best books Iโ€™ve read all year. It was SO GOOD!!! I wanted to highlight literally every sentence. I had to stop myself. This was chosen as our October buddy read; it was so much fun discussing theories because it was, at heart, a murder mystery. There was intriguing plot, gorgeous prose, detailed characters, plenty of mystery, and beautiful romance all set in a Victorian society. Most of the story takes place in Throne Grove, a mysterious mansion that has ghosts, a garden with poisonous plants, and a host of different characters to amuse and confuse you.


I want to note that I read Adalyn Graceโ€™s debut, โ€œAll the Stars and Teeth,โ€ and while I enjoyed it, I was kinda meh overall. It was good, fairly unique, but I didnโ€™t come away saying โ€œWow!โ€ The amount of growth between her debut and Belladonna is STAGGERING.

โ€œ๐‡๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ฌ. ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐๐š๐ณ๐ณ๐ฅ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐จ๐ง. ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐ก๐š๐๐จ๐ฐ๐ฌ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐š๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐š๐ ๐š๐ข๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ค๐ข๐ง ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐๐ซ๐š๐ง๐ค ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ข๐ง ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ง๐ž.โ€โ€”Adalyn Grace

Letโ€™s start with the romance. My favorite part!! I loved how it was handled here. We have a couple of romantic interests at the start. The first is Sylas the stable boy. The second is Death. Both are mysterious and alluring. I really liked how the romance developed over time, and how Signa grew and evolved during her romantic journey. I donโ€™t want to say too much, so I donโ€™t spoil it. Note: this is NOT a love triangle (donโ€™t worry!).

The plot! OMG. The plot was FANTASTIC! Itโ€™s rare that Iโ€™m tricked during a murder mystery. Usually I spot red herrings. I could NOT figure out who the killer was until they were reveled. I SWORE I knew who it was, and I was wrong! This little twist delighted me. Bravo Adalyn Grace. Bravo.


What about the setting? Itโ€™s no surprise that Victorian mansions are some of my favorite settings. I LOVE gothic world building. All the formal balls, the etiquette, lords and ladies, corsets, courting, afternoon tea, governessesโ€ฆokay, okay, you get it. This was a beautiful setting. The world building is set around an age old idea: Death walks among us beyond the veil, ferrying souls when they depart this world. The unique thing is: Signa can SEE Death. She can FEEL Death when he comes to collect souls. And she HATES him for it. Itโ€™s this ability that makes her difference. This ability is the premise of the whole story.


โ€œ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ง๐จ๐ฐ. ๐€ ๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ข๐จ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ. ๐€ ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐›๐ซ๐ž๐ฐ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฒ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ก๐žโ€™๐ ๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐. ๐’๐ก๐žโ€™๐ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฅ๐ญ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ. ๐’๐ก๐žโ€™๐ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฅ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ค๐ข๐ง ๐›๐ž๐ง๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ก ๐š ๐ฆ๐š๐งโ€™๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ๐ฎ๐œ๐ก. ๐’๐ก๐žโ€™๐ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฅ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ง๐ž๐š๐ค ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ซ๐ข๐๐ž ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐›๐ž๐ง๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐จ๐ง. ๐€๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ง ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐š๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐š๐๐ฆ๐ข๐ญ.โ€โ€”Adalyn Grace

How about the characters? All of them are unique and layered. Signaโ€™s character arc was lovely. She stars off as a naive girl deprived of so many facets of society. All she wants is to experience the things other ladies do: attend balls, be courted by a handsome gentlemen, wear pretty dresses, enjoy tea parties, etc. Instead, sheโ€™s been mistreated by relative after relative. However, when sheโ€™s finally given these things, she begins to question if this is actually what she wants. Itโ€™s a timeless theme.

You know how we all have that ONE book we recommend to EVERYONE? This is that book now. Itโ€™s got everything that makes a good book. It appeals to a wide audience making it perfect. I will warn that thereโ€™s a small cliffhanger at the end. Donโ€™t worry, all loose ends pertaining to the story are tied up. Rather, a new mystery emerges in the final pages. I normally hate cliff hangers, but this one was more of a motivation to pick up the second book. Without it, I wouldnโ€™t have had a reason for wanting Foxglove. Obviously, Iโ€™d pick it up regardless, but now I have a REASON to!


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